How to help children overcome low self-esteem

Growing healthy children starts with building great self-esteem. Unfortunately, many parents find themselves struggling to find their own value in life and are hard pressed for answers on how to help their child. In an effort to better enable parents and children, here are a few things to think about when evaluating self-esteem and some ways to boost that ego when you notice you or your child’s self-worth isn’t being fully recognized:

Who determines your self-esteem?

Modern technology works wonders when it comes to keeping your child in the know for school projects such as current events and research assignments, but it can also be detrimental to their self-esteem.  Being constantly inundated with images, advertisements and comments about what’s hot and what’s not can leave kids with a false sense of who they are and how they compare with the rest of humanity. This goes for parents, too.

While banning media and Internet certainly might help, it isn’t a realistic idea. Instead, try filtering what you and your children see. For instance, when watching movies or television together, try pointing out that the people acting in them are not the status quo. Also, be sure to reinforce the idea that even though other people might appear beautiful on the outside, inner beauty is always what counts.

Another way to filter how both you and your child determine self-esteem is to consider what truly defines a person’s worth. Is it appearances, financial success or intelligence?  This is an excellent time for your family to discuss what really makes each person special and why. When talking with your child about his or her unique qualities that make him or her so valuable, focus mainly on personality traits and acts they perform such as a great sense of humor, helping with younger siblings or how they care for grandma when she comes to visit.

How can you build better self-esteem?

Filtering and conversing regularly about what your child sees and hears is an excellent way to begin building better self-esteem, but there are more ways than one. Here are just a few techniques that can help instill a higher sense of value in your little one and yourself:

Emphasize accomplishments

This doesn’t mean exaggerate every minor success, but really focus on the great qualities and accomplishments your child has.

Avoid negativity

Although critics abound, try steering clear of anyone that isn’t uplifting. With children, teasing, bullying and harassment are common these days, so work with your child on ways to handle negative people they encounter and encourage them to only play with or be around children who make them feel good about themselves.

Be quick to admit your faults, but don’t dwell on them

Failure is an unfortunate necessity to learning. By showing your child that you are not perfect, you are allowing him or her to recognize that failure doesn’t mean worthlessness. Everyone makes embarrassing mistakes and the important thing is to learn from it and move on.

Choose your words carefully

Avoid talking to yourself or your child in ways that would belittle or otherwise lessen their security in your love. Calling yourself stupid, ugly, fat or worthless hurts your own self-esteem and gives your child a poor example to learn from. Instead, think before you speak and work hard to explain how you feel without using self-derogatory words.

There are many ways to foster healthy self-esteem in both you and your child, but the first step is always recognizing the problem. If you or your children suffer dramatically from feelings of depression, worthlessness or lack of self-respect, don’t feel ashamed to seek professional help. There are many trained psychologists and counselors who can help you to work through these issues when you have done all that you can to improve your situation. Remember that both you and your child are incredibly valuable to each other, those around you and the world.